Why Elie Wiesel's Night Should Be Required When Learning About The Holocaust

The memoir titled “Night” by Elie Wiesel effectively tells the author’s ill-fated experiences from the Holocaust through his emotionally driven writing style. Elie Wiesel shares his knowledge of the experiences in Night on such a personal level through his writing style that it causes Elie’s writings to fall under the definition of being a memoir. The way Elie describes the events in Night is also to fulfill the overall purpose as to why he wrote this memoir and use that purpose to spread messages to the reader throughout his personal accounts throughout the memoir so that they further understand the purpose to why he wrote it.

The overall purpose of why Elie Wiesel wrote night can be perceived to be multiple purposes or just a singular purpose. The overall purpose can be observed as him needing to “bear witness” to the events to the holocaust but possibly for two reasons. Here it is conveyed in the preface of Night, of which Elie Wiesel went over his purpose for writing this memoir, and in one of his statements, he expresses this,

“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

In addition to the previous statement, this next statement or personal reflection as to why the author Elie Wiesel wrote Night also proposes a valid purpose, “Was it to leave behind a legacy of words, of memories, to help prevent history from repeating itself?” (First Page of The Preface to the New Translation by Elie Wiesel) There are two major purposes to why this memoir was written within these two quotes from the preface. The first quote presented that he wanted to “bear witness” to the Holocaust by sharing his personal accounts of the events that transpired due to his feeling that his duty as a survivor was to share the events that occurred in the past that he witnessed. This then builds a foundation to build his second possible purpose for writing Night, which was Elie wanting to aid the future generations by sharing his story so that nothing of this caliber happens again. Elie Wiesel’s overall purpose to write Night is presumably to just share his accounts of what he witnessed during the holocaust, however that purpose does add a second reason to why he wrote Night by wanting to prevent future conflict similar to the events he described throughout his memoir.

The events that took place within Elie Wiesel’s memoir, “Night”, consisted of the personal experiences he had trying to survive the Holocaust. It starts by introducing Elie Wiesel who at the time was a highly religious, normal, Jewish teenager who lived in a town called Sighet in Transylvania. Elie found a role model and religious mentor and friend named Moishe the Beadle who taught him about Kabbalah. But then is later deported along with other foreign jews. He then returns with his story of what he witnessed the German Soldiers were doing to the Jewish people and tried to warn the people of Sighet, but they didn’t listen to him. The Germans then came and started to slowly oppress the Jewish people by making the Jewish people where golden stars to be identified then later arrested most of the Jewish Community Leaders but not his father who was one, they separated them into two ghettos where Elie was moved to the small one with his family. After this, they were put into train cattle cars on the route to Birkenau, a concentration camp in Poland. They suffered on this train ride until they arrived, where their suffering began to worsen. Elie and his father were separated from his mother and sisters, and Elie would never see them again after that. Elie is also met with the smell of burning human flesh and witnessed children being burned alive, which made Elie start to question his faith in god. Elie meets the notorious S.S. Officer named Dr. Mengele. And Elie was given his number A-7713. Elie and his father stayed together and would then start their march to Buna. When they arrive at Buna they are given new clothes, showers, and assigned to their tents. They go through experiences that slowly made the prisoner lose their humanity. Elie is forced to watch a boy be hanged slowly to death. Several months after their arrival at Buna winter came. By now they have experienced so many terrible things that they are barely alive. Around this time the Russians were getting close to Buna so they started the 50 mile Death March until they arrived in Gleiwitz, where they were put in cattle cars again on a train that was en route for Buchenwald. The train constantly had to stop to throw off dead bodies and the people in the cars were pitted against each other by civilians from a German town by them throwing bread into the cars so that they fought over to survive from hunger. When they arrived in Buchenwald, Elie’s father began to fall to the effects of dysentery and said he couldn’t go on, there was nothing they could do to save him so he passed away from dysentery. Then soon after the camp began to be evacuated because the American’s were getting closer to the camp. The Americans then soon arrive to liberate the prisoners including Elie Wiesel who survived.

There is not a large amount of plot in Night, but the way he wrote his personal accounts to share messages throughout the memoir is what made the memoir so effective in fulfilling his purpose for writing it. He was able to write it effectively by writing what emotions and thoughts he had during his experiences in the memoir, and he added onto his effective writing by using key literary devices such as imagery and symbolism and many more. One instance where the use of imagery and symbolism was the most prominent was Elies’s personal thoughts after he learned to witness the fates of the people who were sent to the crematorium including his mother and sisters and many more people, on page 33 he shares this statement,

“NEVER SHALL I FORGET that night, the first night in camp, that

turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.

Never shall I forget that smoke.

Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.

Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.

Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for

all eternity of the desire to live.

Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God

and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.

Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to

live as long as God Himself.


This quote uses a vast amount of imagery and symbolism to express his thoughts. For example, he starts off by symbolizing the darkness he faces with the night. He then uses imagery to expand on that symbol by sharing his emotions and thoughts using things such a sight, for example, the children’s faces he saw in the smoke of the children’s bodies he put in the fire, and sound, “Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.” He used this imagery to expand on the darkness he was facing at the time which was testing his faith tremendously. And even though his faith was low he still went to god in a time of need for strength to endure. But still brought the question before him, is there a god? And if there was, why would he allow people to suffer like this? He shared these personal religious experiences to show how fragile one’s faith really is. And the way he told of his experiences was to spread his message of what he had to endure, as well as the Jewish people so that people could take messages from the memoir of how oppression and racism can cause suffering. Elie wrote this memoir in a way that would appeal to the reader on a personal level which depending on the reader makes this form of writing either very confusing or very effective in grabbing the readers’ attention to the experiences he described in Night.

Night, the memoir based on Elie Wiesel’s personal experiences during the Holocaust brings the events of the Holocaust to a personal level to the reader. This is why I believe this memoir should be required curricula in school when on the topic of the Holocaust. Most people learn of the horrible events that transpired in the concentration camps to the majority of the Jewish People. However, this memoir gives the reader a full insight into what actually transpired in the camps, instead of just learning the commonly heard hardships most readers learned about. Which causes a sense of sympathy for the Jewish people. In Night the reader gets a full insight into the thoughts and emotions of someone who experienced all of it. That allows the reader to imagine what it’s like in the shoes of the Jewish People which is a sense of empathy rather than just feeling bad for them because they went through so much suffering. 

In conclusion that is in my personal opinion to why the memoir titled Night, by Elie Wiesel, should be required when learning about the holocaust so that they will have a better understanding of how the Jewish people felt during their hardships and to also learn the messages portrayed throughout the book so that they may make better choices later in life. 

16 December 2021
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